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Profits of patience displayed in Avon

Caramie Schnell
cschnell@vaildaily.com
Avon, CO Colorado
Jakub Kotas/Special to the DailyJakub Kotas took this photo in Sequoia National Park in California.
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AVON, Colorado –The woolly white mountain goat is so close you can see the snot on its nose glisten.

Light reflects off the drops of moisture on its scruffy chin hairs. The animal’s eyes are peering straight into yours and it feels like you could reach out and touch the pointy horns atop its head.

Photographer Jakub Kotas could have touched the animal, but instead he used those few seconds to snap a photo, which is on display with 13 other photos at the Avon Public Library this month.

Kotas took the sunrise shot in the spring of 2006, he said.

“And by spring, I mean like, June,” he said jokingly.

With his black hair tied back in a low pony tail, Kotas stood in front of his work at the library while he explained in his eastern European accent how he got the up-close photo of the mountain goat, framed by the rocky gray cliffs of Mount Powell.

Kotas spent three days camping at the base of the Gore Range peak, waiting for the goats to get comfortable enough with his presence to venture close to him.

“There’s a lot of natural salt licks in that area that attracts the goats,” said Kotas, who is from the Czech Republic. “The goats are very curious. They were shy the first time I pitched my tent there, but they get used to it.”

Secret spots

In another photo in the exhibit, a mountain goat is in mid-jump from one stone to another on the shore of a small lake at the base of another mountain peak. Kotas crouched near the lake for hours waiting for the photo, he said.

“I kind of knew it would happen,” Kotas said. “There’s a bay around this lake and instead of going around, the goats sometimes jump from one stone to another.”

Kotas visited the lake many times over the course of two spring seasons, he said. There’s a very small window of time to get the shot – enough snow has to have melted to partially submerge the stones, but it can’t be too late in the season, either.

As spring turns to summer, the lake begins to recede and the goats no longer have to jump to avoid the water. It took some serious patience to score the photo, so it’s not surprising that Kotas is hesitant to share the location of the high mountain lake.

“Do I have to tell?” he asked, a small smile playing on his lips.

A passion for the camera

Kotas lived and worked in Summit County until 2001. He had his own photo gallery on Main Street in Frisco until he moved with his wife, Liba, to Eagle County. The couple live in Edwards with their three-and-a-half year old daughter.

Kotas sells his work at Fusion! gallery in Eagle and at the Colorado Ski Museum in Vail.

“His work is truly outstanding,” said Karin Weber, owner of Fusion! “He brings nature right into the home. He’s so patient, he’ll sit out there and wait for hours to get the right scene.”

The gallery has carried Kotas’ work since it opened a year and a half ago, Weber said.

Kotas recently won an award. One of his photos – a muted, quite peaceful photo of four horses – is on display in the Ordover Gallery at the San Diego Natural History Museum. The photo is one of 72 photos – narrowed down from more than 2,300 images – hanging in the gallery.

A lesson in nature

A passion for photography runs in Kotas’ family. His grandfather was a photographer, as was his father. His father gave him a camera when he was 10 years old and he’s been hooked ever since, he said.

Now he’s teaching his daughter, Klaudie, albeit slowly.

“She can click it,” Kotas said, laughing softly.

Hopefully she’ll have the same inner love for the camera and the beauty it can capture.

“I hope so,” he agreed. “It’s a nice hobby; it’s a good reason to be outside and it can teach you a lot about nature.”

Those lessons includes what a mountain goat looks like when its a foot away from you early one spring morning.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

What: Photography exhibit by Jakub Kotas

Where: Avon Public Library community room, Avon

When: Through July 31

More information: Visit http://jakubkotaswilderness.com


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